Navigating the new academic year

From the Associate Dean (Student Affairs)

Valérie Orsat, Associate Dean (Student Affairs, Macdonald Campus[Lire en français…]

Each new school year is unique, and back-to-school in fall 2020 has taken a very different shape than usual. The campus is still as beautiful as ever with summer’s end, however with much reduced student presence since most of our courses are being taught entirely through remote platforms. The fall term has presented challenges and increased stress for both students (faced with the unexpected) and course instructors (faced with the uncertainty of the teaching medium).

For most students, a teacher is like a guide who points to the wonders of their chosen professional path. It is by pointing to these marvels and wonders that one can encourage the curiosity and drive of our students in a classroom. Now that our classroom is online, the challenge of motivating is even greater.

Through the summer months, our course instructors were busy learning to use new interactive online tools to best deliver their course materials, whether by videoconference, YouTube video clips, voice-over or interactive PowerPoint presentations and varied experiential learning at home with specifically designed experiments.

There is a magical educational moment that one encounters in the classroom: the after-class questions and discussions from some zealous or embarrassed students who dared not ask the questions in class, with a few others lingering not far away, curious to hear what the answer might be. To maintain that link with our students, many instructors are putting in place online virtual lobby sessions to entertain the “hallway conversations” and virtual office hours that help create that bond and that safe environment for thinking, exchanging of ideas, and for instilling that sparkle in our students’ eyes. As we navigate through the fall term, we are actively working at safely increasing our in-person activities in support of our academic mission. As of now everyone in the Macdonald Campus community has showed resilience, enthusiasm and a commitment to succeed. I commend our professors and students for their continued hard work and perseverance in making the best of these unprecedented circumstances we are facing. McGill is committed to providing the quality education we are known for, and students have access to a wealth of resources and information to ensure they are set up to succeed, whether they are living in Montreal or across the globe.

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